Natyotsava - Sunnyvale Hindu Temple, California 
- Manisha Murgude, CA

March 17, 2005 

The auditorium at Sunnyvale Hindu Temple, California echoed with rhythmic footsteps, melodious dance syllables, devotional songs, and euphonious music on the cool spring afternoon of Saturday 26th Feb 2005. This was the first year of Natyotsava, an event arranged by Sunnyvale Hindu Temple, California to provide an opportunity for artistic directors of Indian Classical Dance schools of Bay Area to perform at the temple serving God through the dance and inspiring their disciples.  The event was encouraged & supported by temple trustees, felicitated by temple priest Gajanana Joshi, arranged and conducted by Ram Kedlaya and Sandhya Kedlaya. The minds of all dance lovers attending the event were energized by rhythm, filled with “bhakti” bhava and inspired by excellence of each performer. 

The event began with a Bharatanatyam performance by the artistic director of Nrityodaya Dance Academy, Radhika Shankar. Radhika presented Pushpanjali in raga Aarabhi. She also presented a padam "Thaye Yashoda" by composer Oothukkadu Venkata Subbaier that describes the mischief of young Lord Krishna, as the gopis describe to his mother Yashoda, wife of King Nand. Graceful movements and neat footwork were the hallmark of her recital.

This was followed by Bharatanatyam recital by the artistic director of Jayendra Kalakendra, Sugandha Shreenath. Sugandha presented a dance piece called Natyanjali in Ragamalika with Panchanadai choreographed by the Dhananjayans in which she rendered crisp jathis demonstrating her virtuosity of this dance form. She also presented Purandaradasa's composition "Chikkavane ivano" in Ragamalika, which brought out correct bhava of lyrics. She concluded with a bhajan from Ramacharitamanas.

The lone but endearing kuchipudi performance of the evening was by Jyothi Lakkaraju, the artistic director of Natyalaya Kuchipudi School of Dance. She started her recital with praises of Goddess Saraswati through GNB's composition "Saraswati Namostute", and then she glided onto the padam "Evade vaadu" presenting shringar rasa concluding with a fast-paced recital of Dashavatara.  This grand finale filled us with a profound belief in the power of goodness as we all embarked on the marvelous journey through the ten avatars of Vishnu.

After a short break, we were treated to the beautiful performance rendered by artistic director of Bharatakala Kutiram, Jayanthi Sridhar. The opening item was Pushpanjali followed by Ashtalakshmi Varnam which brought afore the dancer's expressive abhinaya. She ended her recital with dance piece called Natyaragini, which was a fine presentation of understanding of related concepts.

The natural facial expressions coupled with maturity, graceful stage presence and perfection in every move marked the next performance by the artistic director of PAMPA, Nirmala Madhava. The first composition "Tandavamadinal" breathtakingly swirled us through the magnificent forces of nature that has evolved us all. The "Hanumant Devarnama" presented next was the highlight of her performance with a beautiful blend of expressions that was entertaining as well as a good experience for learners. The final Padam "Yeno Sukrotava" was a masterpiece of abhinaya.
The next artist to perform was Nirupama Vaidhyanathan, the artistic director of Sankalpa School of Dance. She began with Purandara Dasa's composition in Kannada "Gajavandana Beduve". The presentation of Swati Tirunal’s Hindi composition that showed Nirupama’s expressive abhinaya coupled with equally impressive nritta followed this. She concluded her recital with a song of gratitude "Kurai onrum illai" offered in dedication to late M S Subbulakshmi who has inspired musicians and dancers alike. 

Last but not least was the agile performance by Shreelatha Suresh, the artistic director of Vishwa Shanthi Dance Academy. She started brightly with Pushpanjali, which was   followed by a fine Bharatanatyam presentation of Dashavatara. She concluded her recital with a Krishna bhajan, which brought out bhakti rasa very effectively.

Each dancer's lyrical performance was a great inspiration for young learners. All dancers were congratulated and blessed by the temple priest Gajanana Joshi with a plaque, shawl and a plate of fruits.

On the whole, this beautiful evening evoked in us all a rich appreciation of our culture and reminded us of the great significance it has in today's fast-paced world. More than 100 devotees and dance lovers attended the event. And this seemed a wonderful beginning for another dance festival.